I spent the evening at my friend Adam and Sarah’s house. They are some of the first post-college friends that I made here in Vermont. The first of a new wave of friends who came to Vermont to stay and make it their home. These are the people that make up my Vermont family. I’ve seen them go from dating to married, buy their first home and have their first kid. They lived most of my 20′s with me – a time that looking back feels like an endless iterative process of self-discovery. We tease each other like siblings and finish sentences with just a look. They are the people that are as comforting to me as the rolling green fields that I drive by for the thousandth time, they are the landscape of home.
Today I went for a walk in my backyard, my beautiful, amazing backyard. I needed to find some space in my brain to process something that’s been nagging me for weeks. Decisions. Not the little, perpetual kind I talked about yesterday. But a big one, one that deals with questions like survival and life meaning. I’m charting my path, a process that I see as a delicate combination between reality and fantasy. You’ve got to consider what’s actually possible and then imbue that with what you want the most. When you figure those two pieces out that’s when the magic happens…
Cue the pixie dust.
If I’m supposed to just spend five minutes writing, I’ve not been following directions. But that’s nothing new. I prefer to do things that don’t involve reading or following directions – that’s the reason that I don’t bake much – too many rules that are actually there for a reason. I prefer rules that are meant to be broken. Flexibility fits me much better.
A while ago I read the book “How We Decide” by Jonah Lehrer (I know, I know, but I enjoyed it;) he explained that the frontal cortex (or some more accurate scientific name/brain part – I’d look it up – but I only have five minutes to write this – yes – convenient rule following going on here – aka – sleepiness/laziness) does all the work when making decisions. I was struck by the notion of how much time we spend making decisions – or rather – how much time I spend making decisions. With flexibility comes many, many decisions. With structure, a lot less.
I bet I have a proportionately large frontal cortex. And if it works like this, which I think it does, (cue other interesting neuroscience book The Brain That Changes Itself) I wonder if I embraced structure more – and spent less time deciding – what other part of my brain would be able to work more?! Yet – I also think that it’s this flexibility that is my strength or at least makes me a good producer and goes hand in hand with a creative mind.
I’ve been wanting to start a photo project to play with the idea of visual haikus. The idea started literally – 5 photos by 7 photos by 5 photos. But that didn’t seem right. True to American education; that was the definition that I knew a haiku to be. Yet, having read them, and having spent many years studying a Japanese discipline, my instinct told me there was much more to them than that.
So I’ve begun to explore the realm of haiku and it makes perfect sense why I’m drawn to this art. Haikus are minimalist, they focus on images in nature and their power lies in creating tension. Nature + brevity + juxtaposition. yep. that’s my jam.
If anyone (Steve,) can recommend some good reading, please let me know!
I just started reading the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain. The topic of introversion, especially how it is handled in our culture, is one that I’m super interested in. Despite my social ways, I’m definitely an introvert. I prefer small gatherings to big ones; nights at home with a movie to nights out at a bar. I’m easily overstimulated, overwhelmed by people and noise, I prefer the quiet woods to a bustling city. My status of introvert has a LOT to do with why I live in Vermont. And I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how Vermont is a state of introverts.
The space in which we surround ourselves, like food, is infinitely nuanced. Cozy or open, angled or curved, bright or dark. From the first time I crossed the border into Vermont, I felt like this was home. I could try and explain why in rational terms, but most attempts to rationalize why you live in Vermont are likely to fail…
I prefer to chalk it up to a feeling. I prefer to live in a place where a feeling can be enough.
I love food. To me, food is art, delicious, edible, life sustaining art. And next to photography, it’s my favorite art.
I can always eat – I blame that part on my metabolism, but part on my love of imagining and then realizing a new sensory experience. Infinite combinations of colors, smell, texture and taste rewarded by the upmost primal satisfaction.
I’ve always been super interested in things and the stories that they tell. Things themselves, I could take them or leave them, stories; however, are the stuff my world, (our world) is made off.
These shells, once inherited from my college roommate, Stevia, have become a staple decoration traveling with me from house to house to house.
I love the dried barnacles that decorate the shells, former homes of some sea creature, on top of a larger, also former home of some other, larger sea creature. Efficient in their use of space despite the vastness of the sea, where they once lived. I also love the cracked holes that provide a view into the soft, shiny orange insides of the calcified outside. A metaphor at it’s best.
And then there’s the turquoise blue bowls, designed to mimic the rough; yet, curved edges of a shell, the color of the sea, my favorite color. Left behind for me by a favorite person whose warmth, wisdom and beauty I recall and honor with their presence.
The shark teeth, also hers, found on her many walks down the beach, round out the sea theme – once rough, now smooth from the velocity and consistency of salt and force.
The rice is a symbol taken from a Buddhist tradition to offer food to the Gods, or in this case, to whatever I want it to feed…her memory; her soul; the sea creatures who lived in my shell; the shark whose teeth are gone.
It hit me today. What was I thinking when I agreed to this challenge? I wasn’t thinking, really. that’s why I agreed. An impulse decision of sorts. A jump first, figure it out later move. I’ve learned that this kind of naivety is an essential part of any creative feat. If you consider all the work, frustration and energy said project would take, you’d never start. The best projects, the ones driven by passion, blind your ability for rational thinking. And once you are in, you have no choice but to keep moving forward. In fact, it’s often the choice itself that is the most tortuous – the mental seesaw of obligation.
All that said. I feel like I have a choice here. I could stop. I could change the rules and say 5/5/5 – the last 5 meaning 5 days. done tomorrow. boom. But I know I’d be bummed. I’d feel like I cheated myself of something important. I’m going to try and stick it out. (external encouragement appreciated.)
It’s fun to be bad. I see it in my girls eyes as they race through the house darting from one room to another – dashing out of the closet when I yell at them to stop. get. OUT. I see it in the form of laughter as my Aunt and Uncle tell stories about sneaking out of the house when they were teenagers growing up in a small town. It’s the red sports car of an adult, the defiant yell of a child. If you listen and look, it’s everywhere, the pepper to our salt. It’s something about the thrill that breaking rules creates. The sense of being more… more daring, more clever, more capable… more alive.